As you enter the hallway where there are tributes and treasures, you’ll be struck by the Torah scroll enshrined in glass. The plaque above it reads: “This Torah was written in the 18th century and removed by the Nazis in 1943 from the synagogue in Pisek, Bohemia. It is presented to the United States Military Academy in memory of those members of the United States Army who lost their lives during World War II while liberating the people of Europe and the survivors of concentration and death camps. Presented by the Torah Memorial Trust, Westminster Synagogue, London, and Project Judaica Foundation, Washington, D.C. 13 April 1994.”
The synagogue itself is narrow but majestic. Like everything else at West Point, its view is expansive. On the day we visited the Chapel, a chupah was set up in preparation for the marriage of two Jewish cadets. There is a spiral staircase in the rear of the synagogue for women to ascend to a balcony for those wishing to sit separately, and a kosher kitchen which bears a sign warning that no outside food is allowed.
There is an attractive study hall and a nice assortment of Judaica in the Chapel’s library. The grounds are complemented in the rear by a beautiful garden, donated in loving memory of Ella Louise Marks, the great grandmother of Benjamin Breslauer, a 1954 graduate of West Point. That’s a family name I hadn’t heard for awhile, borne by the Rabbi of a Congregation in the Washington Heights section of New York whose claim to American history was officiating at Henry Kissinger’s bar mitzvah in Germany and subsequently overseeing Kissinger’s first wedding in the States.
As you wind your way back around the hallway to the foyer exit, you’ll be struck by a beautiful painting of an Israeli soldier at the Wailing Wall in Jersualem It was presented to the United States Military Academy Jewish Chapel by a family in 2005, in appreciation of Rabbi Carlos Huerta, a Chaplain at West Point who served with distinction.
A statue of Judah Maccabee can be found at the United States Military Academy, a symbol of his influence as a warrior on George Washington and subsequent officers of the United States Army. As mentioned in Part 1 a visit to the Jewish Chapel at West Point should be mandatory for every Jewish citizen living in this country. In fact, it should be mandatory for every citizen of this country and certainly puts many cultural and historical pieces into clearer perspective. Here is the essential information for the chapel: